The board members of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL); Guyana Energy Agency (GEA); Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA); and the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) were officially instituted today, January 28, 2016.
During each institution, the Ministers of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Honourable David Patterson and Honourable Annette Ferguson, urged the members to take their roles in the nation’s development seriously.
Throughout the day, the four boards were instituted in separate ceremonies and each board received charges from the Ministers.
For GPL, the first board to be instituted, the Chairman is Mr. Robert Badal; along with him are Ms. Denise Simmons; Mr. Leslie Ramalho; Mrs. Abiola Wong-Innis; Mrs. Morsha Johnson-Francis; Mr. Tara Singh; and Dr. Mahender Sharma, who were all installed as members. Representatives from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU); the Private Sector Commission (PSC); and the Parliamentary Opposition were also slated to be a part of the board but are yet to be nominated.
According to Minister Patterson, GPL is the core utility company in Guyana. Therefore, he said, the new board will have a tremendous responsibility. He urged the members to keep in mind that their main goal is to provide exemplary service to consumers.
Minister Patterson further said that the greening of the country must also be a focus area for the new board. The board, he said, will be tasked with transitioning to alternative energy needs. Noting that the Government is currently working towards the creation of a 26 megawatts wind farm, Minister Patterson said that GPL is expected to be a part in the realisation of this goal.
In her address, Minister Ferguson commended the new GPL board and emphasised the integral role it played in the country’s development.
“I trust that with new faces coming on-board that we’ll see new ideas coming forward. We want you to find better ways and solutions to satisfy our consumers,” Minister Ferguson emphasised.
Both Ministers also reminded the board of GPL’s ongoing issues, including technical losses and unsatisfactory administration. They urged the board to look into these matters with a fair and equitable approach.
“I do hope you address these and expedite them as quickly as possible,” Minister Patterson said. He added, “I’m sure the next two years will be fruitful and beneficial to the country.”
Minister Ferguson also expressed pleasure at the board’s inclusion of three women, a vast improvement from previous GPL boards.
Meeting Guyana’s energy needs
For the GEA board, Mr. Lance Hinds was installed as the Chairman. Along with him are Ms. Nadia Sagar; Mr. Mark Bender; Dr. Mahender Sharma; and Dr. Vincent Adams. Though a representative from the Parliamentary Opposition was slated to be a part of the board, the Ministry is still awaiting a nominee.
During the board’s institution, Minister Patterson urged the members to tap into alternatives for the supply of fuel.
According to Minister Patterson, the GEA plays an integral role in meeting Guyana’s energy needs. Furthermore, he urged the board members to look into administrative issues and, most importantly, focus on renewable energy. He added that, in this regard, the focus should not only be on traditional forms of energy such as solar, wind and hydro but other forms such as waste energy.
“I do hope that these are looked at as viable options,” Minister Patterson stressed.
In her remarks, Minister Ferguson congratulated the new board and thanked them for taking up their positions.
“You’re here to advance the Government’s policies and to ensure that we have value for our money,” Minister Ferguson reminded. She added, “I trust that when important matters are before you that you handle them to the best of your abilities.”
In response, GEA Chairman, Mr. Hinds, thanked the Ministers for their charges and expressed pleasure with the level of skill on the new board.
For the new members of the CJIA board, being visionaries was the challenge put forward to them by Ministers Patterson and Ferguson.
The new board of directors of CJIA is being led by Chairman, Mr. Stephen Fraser. With him are Vice Chairman, Mr. Ramesh Ghir; Mr. Gerhard Ramsaroop; Ms. Nadia Jaikarran; Mr. Stuart Hughes; Ms. Gillian Pollard; Mr. Sherwood Clarke; and Ex-Officio Member, Mr. Balraj Balram. A representative from the Parliamentary Opposition is yet to be identified.
During brief remarks, Minister Patterson urged the board to not only recognise the meaningful positions they were in but to also be creative in their approaches.
Minister Patterson also asked the board to focus on cost efficiency. Noting that the airport saw a six percent increase in travellers during 2015, Minister Patterson projected that this figure will only grow in 2016. He added that the board’s first challenge will be the handling of those coming to Guyana to celebrate the nation’s 50th independence anniversary.
“You will be charged with ensuring that our brothers and sisters feel very welcomed,” Minister Patterson said.
He further expressed hope that the airport’s capacities will be greatly improved under its new board and urged the members to open Guyana’s airways to more flights. He said that currently Guyana has low connectivity with its South American neighbours, a situation he hoped would be addressed.
Meanwhile, in her address, Minister Ferguson thanked the members for accepting their appointments and urged them to work closely with the Ministry.
CJIA Chairman, Mr. Fraser, thanked the Ministers for their expressed trust in the board. He said that he was so far comfortable with the board and CJIA’s management and indicated that the board will work towards developing synergy for the airport. He concluded by expressing his gratitude for ongoing works at the airport, particularly the airport expansion project.
The final board to be instituted was DHBC and Minister Ferguson urged its members to be innovators during their term. The board of directors of DHBC consists of Chairman, Mr. Shabir Hussein; Vice Chairman, Mr. Joseph Holder; Ms. Rafeza Hussein; Ms. Claudette Rogers; and Ms. Mandy Sukhdeo; and Ex-Officio Member, Mr. Rawlston Adams. A representative from the GPSU is yet to be nominated.
During her charge, Minister Ferguson urged the members to be forward thinking and advised them to come up with new ideas to better the operations of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. She also extended this advice to the Asphalt Plant, which falls under DHBC.
She shared that, at the end of 2015, both DHBC and the Asphalt Plant performed well and she expressed hope that this performance will only grow under the new board.
Additionally, Minister Ferguson noted the need for improved traffic control and indicated that this was an area that must be looked into by the board. She stressed that the goal must be to provide better service to the travelling public.
Minister Ferguson further said that the Ministry will be working closely with the board in the future on a number of projects, including the new Demerara Harbour Bridge.
Meanwhile, Minister Patterson thanked the members for accepting their appointments and reminded them of their social obligations to the Guyanese public.
In response, Chairman, Mr. Hussein, thanked the Ministers for the confidence placed in him as the chairman and promised the board’s full cooperation.
Overall, all of the board members were urged to keep their employees satisfied and in mind.
“Our workers and employees are our most valued assets; we hope that whatever plans you undertake that the employees are with you,” Minister Patterson said. “Whatever you do, don’t forget them,” Minister Ferguson added.